I loved, during the Olympics, watching athletes read letters of love from their parents. Isn’t it beautiful to watch how people are moved by reading how much their parents love them and admire their grit and perseverance? Children weep when witnessing the love and pride of a parent:
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) February 23, 2018
“This is why we do this,” says Kaitlyn Weaver, as she waves the love letter from her mom.
I tear up watching athletes feel the love of their parents.
It’s clear how very important it is for a person to feel and know–to embed in their hearts–the love of parents.
When my youngest Junior Tribe Member was a toddler, I found a plate in a gift card store in the mall. When I saw it, I immediately fell in love with it. Even more, I fell in love with the idea of its purpose–to have my child witness my love and pride of a parent:
Just beginning my private practice when my children were toddlers, I realized quickly how powerfully the messages we get from our parents shape us.
I wanted the kids to solidly live in the reality of my love for them.
I did not want the inevitable crappy moments of my parenting to define how my JTM’s remembered how I felt about them.
I knew I loved my JTM’s. I was quite certain that they knew I loved them. But I also knew that there were moments where I was short tempered, where I missed cues for a hug needed, or simply needed to have a shower/pee/get the grocery shopping done in a way that had my child feel less valued. Don’t we all as parents want our children to remember our love more than our failures?
I decided early on that I would attempt to create opportunities to connect with my kids whenever possible, to give them messages to make it harder for them to wonder if they were loved and wanted. I would do would I could to weight the love heavier than my failures.
Too often in this world, a person can find evidence that they are not enough. In light of the natural human pattern to seek confirmation of how we are not worthy of love, I wanted to make it harder for my children to tell themselves the lies we all tell ourselves about our worthiness.
The special plate has been one small tool in my toolbox that would help me to reinforce that we celebrated each other simply for existing. I wanted to fill the silence with messages of love in all kinds of ways.
For many years, the special plate is set in front of the birthday boy. When a person in the family worked hard and accomplished something they had been striving for–we celebrated! We tried to have the person being celebrated we weren’t celebrating the good marks, but the good determination that was behind the good marks. When a guest came with a special occasion, we would put it out for them. And, to be honest, it’s not only children that need to be celebrated and reminded of their value. Parents need those messages, too! I like having the special plate set before me as much as anybody. 🙂
When we combined families to become the Kla-Bergs a few years ago, I brought the special plate and its tradition with me. I generally don’t set the table as I’m doing the cooking, but the table setters amongst us almost immediately knew, without my suggestion, when the special plate needed to come out. It just seemed so natural to have a special plate in our two-families-who-are-also-one-family.
It only seemed right, as I was watching some of our now-Intermediate Tribe Members establish homes of their own, that they get their own special plates. I thought they might welcome this simple way to add to how they celebrate and acknowledge the inherent value of each other.
As a Christmas gift, I gave my daughters-in-law a plate to be made special at Brushfire Studios. They loved the idea…busy women carved time out of their schedules to create time for special plate creation. We painted plates together. They could pick the design and the colors…and we talked and laughed as we painted them:
These special plates were fired and turned out beautifully! The imperfections and slight unevenness adds to the beauty. Each one, so very different from the other. I love how each of them turned out. It’s cool how each one reflects the personality and personal style of the painter.
They now can continue the tradition of using these special plates to celebrate each other and others who might be hosted in their own homes:
I took the opportunity to make a new plate. As one JTM pointed out, with only one plate, we were unable to put it out when a couple was celebrating a special occasion, such as an anniversary together. Now, combined with the original plate, we have a pair!
In a world that often seems harsh and divisive, let’s find ordinary opportunities to love and care. At a time when so often people are valued only for their performance or how well they’ve done, let’s show those we care about that they are simply loved for who they are. In a fast paced world where people feel only as special as their last liked instagrammed post, I wanted a home-cooked meal served on a special plate to slow their lives down into a loved space that was created just for them.
I want my JTM’s to know their value as human beings. Entering the world confident of their value will allow them to be able see the pain of others and respond compassionately. Knowing who they are, and knowing their values enables them to courageously be allies with those who are marginalized. Valuing themselves positions them to value others. Being aware of their own worth will create a context where they will also very much treasure the value of others.